Toronto and Vancouver Rank Amongst The Worst Cities For Immigrant Incomes

Most immigrants in Canada find themselves in just two major regions, and those regions also happen to pay them the worst. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data shows the median annual income for immigrants in 2019 was much lower in major hubs. Immigrants that arrived 10 years ago are paid much lower in places like Southern Ontario. Meanwhile, immigrants are being paid significantly higher than the national average in small cities. 

Even After 10 Years, Immigrants To Canada Will Earn A Lot Less

Canada might be one of the most desirable places in the world for immigrants, but they pay a hefty price. Not just due to the high cost of housing, but the median income 10 years after arriving was just $33,700 annually in 2019. This is about 13.5% lower than the median for all Canadians across the country. Even after 10 years, there is a massive wage gap. That might be due to the cities immigrants settle.

Canada’s Smaller Cities Pay Immigrants Better

The highest-paid regions for immigrants to Canada also happen to be more affordable ones. Rural and small towns in Alberta had the highest median wage ($46,700) for 2019. Looking at major Canadian cities, Quebec City ($44,500), St. John’s, N.L. ($44,100), and Saguenay, QC ($44,000) took the top spots. A general theme you’ll notice in the list is the median wage for an immigrant 10-years after arrival is higher in regions where there are fewer immigrants. 

Canadian Immigrant Median Annual Income By Region

The median annual income in 2019 for an immigrant that arrived in Canada 10-years prior.

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling.

Southern Ontario and New Brunswick Are Home To The Lowest Paid Immigrants 

Ontario and New Brunswick landed at the bottom of the list for immigrant pay. The bottom three for median wages were Windsor ($26,300), London ($28,600), and Saint John, NB ($29,100). Generally speaking, Southern Ontario is one of the worst paying regions for immigrants in Canada. Emphasis on the Southern part, since the province’s Northern regions, ranked significantly higher. 

Toronto Immigrants Are Some of The Worst Paid In Canada

Toronto is the top spot for immigrants in Canada but one of the worst places to earn a living. With a median wage of just $29,600 in 2019, they earned 12.2% less than the median across the country. That drops Toronto to the 42nd spot for wages, the 5th worst in the country. 

Cities surrounding Toronto, also in the same economic region, round out the list for worst paid. Barrie ($30,000) is the 6th worst, St. Catharines-Niagara ($30,800) is the 8th worst, and Hamilton ($31,000) is the 9th worst. Ironically these regions are amongst the most expensive in the country. 

Vancouver Has Low Immigrant Pay, But It’s An Exception For B.C.

Vancouver is close to the bottom of the list for immigrant earnings, but not quite as bad as Toronto. The median income was $31,000, tied for the 37th spot with Hamilton — making it the 10th worst. It appears to be a bit of an anomaly for B.C., with other regions doing significantly better. Victoria, the province’s capital, even ranks in the top 10.  

Montreal Lands In The Middle of The List For Immigrant Pay

Montreal might be notorious for low wages, but it’s right in the middle regarding immigrant pay. The median income for the immigrant cohort is $35,900 in 2019, landing the city in the 21st spot.

Canada’s traditional immigration hubs have become some of the worst paying, with Montreal being an exception. In general, areas like Southern Ontario, with the largest immigrant populations, pay them the worst. 

Meanwhile, small regions that have a more challenging time attracting immigrants pay better. Who had rural Alberta, the Maritimes, and Northern Ontario as prime earning regions for immigrants on their bingo card?

In any case, immigrants to Canada do earn significantly less than their domestic-born peers. Unless those domestic-born peers are visible minorities, of course. Then wages are also significantly lower than the median wage in general.



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  • Fazid 2 years ago

    The supply of cheap labor to exploit is too high in the cities.

  • Al 2 years ago

    It would be interesting to see more stats on this. We know that excess labour (and high immigration in general) drives down wages, so it’s not actually surprising that the areas that have the most people competing for the same jobs have lower incomes.

  • Muhammed 2 years ago

    They’re paying a premium for a shot at making money. I couldn’t have earned nearly as much as I do back home. This is just a small share of people earning less that are complaining.

  • David Chan 2 years ago

    and that’s people that arrived 10 years ago, and might have been able to get a home with a dual income with that price. Imagine coming here today and you have to WORK UP to that price?

  • Mike 2 years ago

    Many international students in Toronto and Vancouver and satellite families. No income, but wealth, also in real estate. Best setup for minimal tax bill.

  • Recruiter Man 2 years ago

    Are we including foreign trained CFO’s and uber drivers in the same category? More context is needed.

    Large cities will have a larger proportion of immigrants in low skill/low wage jobs such as general labour, restaurant workers, uber drivers, etc. Large cities will also have more competition from highly skilled professionals (local and foreign). Toronto is where most immigrants try to go so no surprise that competition is fierce and wages consequently lower.

    Small cities have fewer low skill, high volume positions such as foodservice, while simultaneously having lower barriers to entry into high skilled jobs due to lack of local supply.

  • RM 2 years ago

    So we’re constantly fed the line that real estate is getting more expensive because of high immigration, which I’m sure to a certain extent is true, but this data is really at odds with that narrative.

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